Best educational TV shows for EYFS

Team Umizoomi - best educational TV shows for EYFS
We all need to wind down after a day’s work, kids included – but who says relaxing in front of the TV can’t be a learning experience? We pick some of the best programmes to help four and five year olds with their phonics, counting, shape recognition and literacy.

Team Umizoomi, Nick Jnr

Team Umizoomi – made up of Milli, Geo and Bot –help young children solve everyday maths problems. Using counting, comparison, measuring, patterns and shapes, each episode is designed to develop basic maths skills, and build confidence with numbers.

Alphablocks, Cbeebies

A SchoolRun Forum favourite, this phonics-based programme is designed to make learning to read fun for young children. With an adventure in each episode, the Alphablocks are a group of 26 letter characters, who are able to create a word and make it come to life by holding hands. Just like the children watching, they use sounding out and blending to read it. You can watch clips online, or check schedules for broadcast times.

Sesame Street

First broadcast in 1969, this classic US show from the creator of the  Muppets teaches numbers and letters with characters Elmo, Ernie and Bert and the Cookie Monster. Hard to find now on UK TV, fans can always invest in a DVD of some classic clips (Sesame Street: Old School, Vol 1 (1969-1974).

Fun with Phonics, Cbeebies

With the help of Pollyphonic the parrot, children are introduced to the 42 most common sounds (or phonemes) which form the basis of literacy. Each programme is devoted to an individual sound, through the use of stories, songs and games, and is designed to increase a child’s familiarity with words, and build up their vocabulary. Clips and activities are available on the website, as well as a book and DVD pack.


Speaking and listening is a major part of literacy for young children, and Razzledazzle is designed to develop exactly these skills. Our host, Razzledazzle, invites us to travel through four ‘portals’: Rhyme time, Chit chat, Bish Bash Bosh and Once upon a tale, all designed to encouraged a love of language. Songs and stories can be listened to on the Cbeebies website.

Dora the Explorer, Nick Jnr

It’s bright, loud, and not to every parent’s taste, but plenty of children love the adventures of Dora, Boots the monkey, and Swiper the fox. Off on an adventure in every episode, Dora asks children to help her solve puzzles, and teaches numbers, shapes, letters, colours, and basic words in Spanish along the way.

Get Squiggling, Cbeebies

Help establish the foundations of good handwriting and  develop an interest in art and drawing with some arty adventures. Children are encouraged to join in with Squiglet the cat and his magic ‘Squiggle Sticks’ to make pictures. Each episode uses one of the seven different types of line (straight, wavy, etc) as Squiglet draws his way out of tricky situations. A great way to get young children used to holding and controlling a pencil, and recognising colours and shapes.

Something Special, Cbeebies

Thanks to his use of sign language, millions of children with – or without – special educational needs can join in the fun with Mr Tumble. The show takes a simple format and covers topics familiar to young children: colours, weather, all about me etc. There’s plenty of repetition, and it’s all presented in a way that encourages children to learn.

Tikkabilla, Cbeebies

The modern version of the classic TV show Playschool, Tikkabilla aims to teach children about the world around them. With the help of Tamba the puppet, and using the original round, square and arched windows from Playschool, the presenters use real-life films, tell stories and sing songs, as well as introduce basic time-telling with the Tikkabilla clock. Not on the air at the moment, but DVDs are available.

Come Outside, Cbeebies

Young children can learn about the world with the help of Aunty Mabel and her mischievous dog, Pippin. Off in her spotted plane, Aunty Mabel’s adventures will show how objects are made, how things work or where things come from. Interesting and informative, Aunty Mabel is clearly game for anything – in one episode she goes down the sewer in search of poo. Games and colouring activities are available online.

Your child’s 2012 TV obsessions!

The Lingo Show, Cbeebies

Launching shortly on tv, this spin-off from the Cbeebies website, focuses on teaching children words in different languages. Each episode will focus on a particular language, and Lingo and his troupe of talented bugs will teach around ten common words, such as ‘hello’ and ‘thank you’, as well as showing the sights and sounds of other cultures. 

Numtums, Cbeebies

Watch out for this new number programme for very young children, coming soon. Designed to help with early counting skills, it features 10 furry critters, each with its own number. Each episode will feature lots of repetition, counting up to ten, and a special masked numtum, who sneaks out into the real world to look for numbers.

Find more educational programmes for KS1 children and learning shows for KS2 children or share your favourites on our Forum.